NEW DELHI: Coca-Cola sees "huge opportunities" in India as it ramps up its innovation process and prepares to introduce a range of new products it believes will change the perception of the company.

The soft drinks giant, which earlier this week announced it was investing $1.7bn in India over the next five years, roughly half in the agricultural ecosystem, is not only planning to add juice to sparkling beverages but to develop "a whole range of new products" based on fruits.

"The perception is that we are only into sparkling beverages, which is wrong," said T Krishnakumar, president, Coca-Cola India and Southwest Asia.

"We are going to explode our consumer portfolio and be a total beverages company by the next decade so that people know we are not a one-dimensional company," he told the Economic Times.

Coca-Cola has also been tracking the branded ethnic beverages category, a niche category but one which has the potential to overtake colas, one investor claimed earlier this year, as consumers show signs of preferring what they perceive to be healthier and more traditional flavours, with drinks using ingredients like mangoes, jamun, kokum, tamarind and cumin.

Krishnakumar did not regard health as a major issue but acknowledged a need to provide a segmented choice and said the business was "sharpening" itself and "listening to ethnicity" in order to see what new flavours are emerging. "You can expect us to launch a portfolio of ethnic products," he declared.

"My role is to facilitate the acceleration of the pipeline of innovations that we have," Krishnakumar added.

"If we get our innovation funnel out in the market and go in a focused manner, there is a huge opportunity for us to grow," he told Mint.

Data sourced from Economic Times, Mint; additional content by WARC staff